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First foreign leader visits Sudan since start of civil war

Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed and General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan have discussed the ongoing conflict and potential paths to peace

Sudanese army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan hosted Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Port Sudan on Tuesday, marking the first visit of a foreign leader to the country since civil war broke out more than 12 months ago.   

According to Sudanese news agency SUNA, al-Burhan stressed “the depth of bilateral relations between Khartoum and Addis Ababa, referring to the historical and cultural ties between the two brotherly peoples.” 

Discussions between the two parties centered on the importance of fostering and enhancing bilateral relations. 

Ahmed emphasized that his visit underscores the support of his government and the Ethiopian people for Sudan, which has been gripped by civil war since the onset of the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in April 2023.  

“This war will end, and the relationship between our two countries will remain firm and strong,” he stated, emphasizing the critical role of peace as the foundation for development. The leader also stressed that nations must resolve their internal issues without external interference. 

Previously perceived as more aligned with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and having hosted its leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo in Addis Ababa last December, Ahmed framed his visit as part of an effort to bring stability to Sudan. 

The President of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council (TSC) General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (R) welcomes Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during an official visit in Port Sudan on July 9, 2024.

©  AFP

The trip came after the RSF attacked Sennar, a trading hub in southwest Sudan, on June 24, which pushed the conflict closer to Sudan’s border with Ethiopia. 

On July 3, the UN reported that more than 136,000 people have fled the state of Sennar after the paramilitary RSF launched a series of assaults in the region. Social media images showed people of all ages streaming into the state of Blue Nile in a desperate bid to escape the clashes.  

READ MORE: Sudan at stake: Will Egypt manage to bring the warring parties back to the negotiating table?

Fighting between the SAF and the RSF erupted in mid-April 2023. Since then, an estimated 10 million people have been internally displaced and around 17,000 killed. The UN also reported that about 25 million people in Sudan, including over 14 million children, are facing hunger and desperately need aid. 

July 10, 2024 at 06:33PM

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